Catherine Connors is a mother, writer and recovering academic who traded the lecture hall for the playroom and discovered that university students and preschoolers have much the same attention span. She still dips her toes into academic waters by writing the occasional scholarly article about the place of motherhood in Western philosophy, but mostly now she changes diapers and wipes noses and indulges in long reflections on whether Yo Gabba Gabba is a harbinger of the decline of western civilization. Oh, and she blogs: in addition to Bad Mother blogging at BeliefNet, she is, among other things, the author of HerBadMother.com, Managing Editor of MamaPop, moderator of Her Bad Mother’s Basement, co-founder and co-editor of WeCovet, Contributing Editor at BlogHer, and (deep breath) founder of and contributor to Canada Moms Blog. And in her spare time… oh, wait. She doesn’t have spare time. But she’s okay with that.
I was eighteen when my parents’ marriage fell apart. It was – as the collapse of marriages usually are when there are children involved – terrible.
One of the more difficult aspects, for me, of the collapse of their marriage was my mother’s need to talk to me about it. She suspected (rightly) my father of having an affair, and she was heartbroken, and she wanted to express her heartbreak to her daughters. Which I did – and still do – understand. But hearing the play-by-play of the breakdown of their relationship, hearing, over and over again, the story of her heartbreak, was too much for me to bear. I left home to escape it. It still weighs upon my heart.
I was able to leave home and to limit, to some degree, my exposure to my parents’ pain. The Gosselin children, however, are not and never will be so lucky: their parents are exposing their pain and outrage and heartbreak all over television and the Internet, where it will live on in all of its ugly glory forever. They are lashing out at each other and accusing each other and each is making every effort to make the other the bad guy, which might, for each of them, provide some measure of satisfaction and emotional release, but for the children? This will just become evidence of how messed up their parents were, and how little they thought of the effect on their children of sharing the collapse of their family – the tragic collapse of their family – with the entire world. And it will hurt them, the Gosselin kids. It will hurt them.
I don’t care what Jon or Kate or their lawyers say about wanting to protect their children; they’re not doing it. (Yes, I’m including Kate. Jon’s been an ass, but she’s just as guilty of broadcasting their misery.) Every time either one of them goes on a talk show or gives an interview or says anything public about the breakdown of their marriage and the dissolution of their family, anything at all, they are hurting their children. Maybe the kids won’t feel the pain today (although I very much doubt that), but they will feel it. And it will never go away.
There’s no amount of money or fame that’s worth that. There’s just not. I wish that they would figure that out, and just stop.